Has COVID-19 Affected the Divorce Rate?

Posted in Divorce on January 28, 2022

The decision to get divorced has always been a personal one, driven by factors such as financial stress, individual beliefs or irreconcilable differences. When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, there was a surprising spike in the number of divorce cases being filed due to reasons such as financial strain, domestic violence and couples quarantining together. Now, nearly two years later, divorce rates have dropped considerably.

Why Did Divorce Numbers Spike in the Early Pandemic Era?

Divorce rates have always been a topic of interest among researchers. Tracking the facts and statistics about divorce can shed light on possible factors that end a marriage – potentially helping other couples avoid the same fate. Divorce has been an even greater topic of conversation during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shocking numbers of married couples submitted petitions for dissolutions of marriage and legal separations in the first few months of the virus. Some of the most common reasons cited for early-pandemic divorces were:

  • Job losses
  • Financial problems and related argument
  • Tension from being quarantined or at home together
  • Arguments about parenting styles
  • Domestic abuse or violence
  • Extramarital affairs
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Boredom

One relationship expert in Nashville, Lee Wilson, surveyed 1,277 couples in April 2020 to find out if the COVID-19 virus had impacted their marriages. He found that nearly 30 percent of couples said that the pandemic had hurt their marriages and that they were now headed for divorce. Wilson’s theory is that the couples who filed divorce petitions in the first few months of the pandemic had relationships that were already on the rocks and were unable to last under COVID-19 conditions. He says that these couples may have felt trapped and wanted to get out.

Why Are Divorce Rates Dropping Now?

According to lawyers, researchers and court records, divorce rates around the country have plummeted considerably in the past 12 months compared to the initial surge in divorce filings at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Divorce data kept by the Superior Court of California, for example, states that the divorce rates in Los Angeles County dropped by 17.3 percent from March 2020 to March 2021 compared to the same months the previous year. The number of divorce filings fell from 15,222 to 12,750. 

These findings in LA County support the general consensus that divorce rates are plummeting after the initial uptick in the early months of the pandemic. Divorce lawyers and relationship experts believe that reasons for the drop in divorce petitions include:

  • A desire to keep things consistent with so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
  • Staying together for children in an otherwise turbulent time.
  • People not having their ordinary outlets, such as the ability to have an affair outside of the home.
  • Being unable or unwilling to deal with the expense of getting divorced.
  • The virus and related lifestyle changes made some relationships stronger, such as enjoying quality family time together.

Lee Wilson sent out a second set of surveys in February 2021, 10 months after his first survey. This time, 17 percent reported that the pandemic had strengthened their relationships. It is possible that after the initial fear, anxiety and uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, couples who stayed married found a positive impact on their relationships from the pressures of getting through a pandemic.

Considering a Pandemic Divorce? We Can Help

Getting divorced during COVID-19 can come with special considerations, such as how to safely escape a marriage that involves domestic violence when the perpetrator is constantly at home, or how to organize child support or alimony when one or both parents are unemployed. It is important to consult with a divorce lawyer in Solana Beach if you are considering divorce or legal separation during the pandemic. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and save money during this difficult time with trustworthy legal advice.